Mar 21 2021

What is the Best French Press Coffee Ratio?

French press coffee maker and coffee mug on a colorful backdrop

Before starting this conversation, it’s important to note that there is no single answer that’s right for everyone all the time. And that’s the beauty of coffee. There are endless ways to make and experience it.

The French press is a more labor-intensive method of coffee-making but it produces high-quality, customizable results.

Once you understand the method itself, the hardest part is figuring out the coffee to water ratio for French press. Many suggest a 1:17 ratio for beginners. But, that’s just a baseline!
The coarseness of the grind also comes into play, as does the desired flavor and strength of your coffee.

There’s much to think about with the French press, so let’s dive in!

  • How do I Make Perfect French Press Coffee?
  • Supplies List
  • Instructions
  • How Much Coffee do You Put in a French Press?

How do I Make Perfect French Press Coffee?

Before getting into minor details and deciphering the coffee water ratio for French press, you must know what you’re doing.

A trial and error period is to be expected if you’ve never used a French press before. The best thing you can do here is record everything! Record your ratios, coarseness, and your results. This will help you determine your best French press coffee ratio. 

Coffee Beans in a measuring spoon sitting on top of a scale

Supplies

All that’s required to make French press coffee is the press itself, however, several pieces of optional equipment may enhance your accuracy and overall experience:

  • Burr grinder. 
    Freshly ground coffee beans are the best, and a burr grinder gives you the highest-quality, most consistent grind.
  • Scale.
    This helps tremendously as you start. You can weigh your coffee and record exactly how much you use. Going forward, it helps you make it exactly right each time. 
  • Thermometer.
    This simply helps you get the water temperature exactly right, which can make a difference in the taste of your coffee. Automatic coffee makers set the right temperature for you but with a French press, it’s all on you!  
  • Timer.
    This will help you accurately time the steeping of the coffee so you don’t accidentally leave it too long.  

Instructions

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, the steps for the perfect French press cup are as follows:

  • STEP 1: Heat your water. The ideal temperature is 195 degrees Fahrenheit or about 90.5 degrees Celsius. If you don’t have a thermometer, your water should reach this temperature right before boiling.

stainless steel electric kettle with a blue star mug beside it waiting to be filled
  • STEP 2: Grind your beans. Typically, the French press calls for a coarse grind, so the grounds should look more like little chunks rather than the sandy consistency of an espresso grind. This allows the grinds to absorb more water and pull out a sweeter flavor. The finer the grind, the more bitter the coffee in the case of a French press.

top view of a coffee grinder full of ground coffee
  • STEP 3: Bloom your coffee. This is often forgotten but it’s important. This involves saturating your grounds with water to release CO2. Doing this before brewing enhances the flavor. Failing to bloom means the grounds will release their CO2 while brewing, adding bitterness to the coffee. Let it bloom for about 30 seconds.

Top view of a French press coffee bloom
  • Once bloomed, add the rest of your water and let the coffee steep. The standard time is about four minutes for a French press.

  • STEP 4: Handle the crust. Once the coffee is steeped, a layer of coffee grounds will have appeared on the top. This is known as the crust. For a deeper, full-bodied flavor, stir it back into the beaker before plunging. For a lighter coffee, remove it.

  • STEP 5: Plunge your coffee. Once the coffee has steeped, plunge nice and slow until you reach the bottom. Once plunging is done, you’re good to go!
Glass french press being plunged down

These are the steps for a standard cup of French press coffee, but the details can be changed! The coarseness of the grind, water temperature, steep time, and even blooming time can all be adjusted to manipulate the final results.

How Much Coffee do You Put in a French Press?

While many things can be played with to change your cup, the metric with the most weight is your French press coffee ratio. The recommended starting point of 1:17 is on the weaker side, so many people play around and come up with a French press water to coffee ratio that makes it stronger.

For those who like their coffee extremely strong, the coffee French press ratio can reach as little as 1:10. 

These are the two extremes, and there’s plenty of wiggle room in between.

If you’re unsure how to proceed with your French press coffee to water ratio and all the other metrics, follow these guidelines to begin your experimentation:
 

  • Water ratio. Start with a 1:17 coffee to water ratio for French press. If you want it stronger and more intense, add coffee to the ratio. If you want to tone it down and go for a weaker, sweeter cup, add more water to the ratio.

  • The grind. If the coffee is too sour or weak, use a finer grind. If it’s too bitter, make it coarser. Keep adjusting until you find your perfect taste.

  • Steeping. The amount of time spent steeping before plunging also matters. The baseline is four minutes, but you can adjust. For a weaker, sweeter cup, steep for less time. If you want it stronger and more bitter, steep for longer.

It may be tedious, but it’s best to adjust these things one at a time in the beginning. If you change everything from one brew to the next, you won’t know exactly what made the difference.

Some enjoy a variety of coffee too, one day you may want it sweet and light while going for strong and intense the next day. This is the beauty of the French press.  

Have Fun With it

At the end of the day, just have fun with this brilliant, customizable method of making great coffee. Don’t stress about the particulars, just pick a starting point and go from there. It’ll take a few tries to find your perfect combination, but the French press is a super fun way to make your coffee when you’ve got the time to spend.

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